Winter Stars

by Paul Blake

Those were the nights of frost
            that fell from the black
clear sky to spear the hogback ridge.
            Shelterless stars
huddled together shaking
            in the bitter air, as the loom
of the cold wove needles of ice skim,
            criss-cross,
over the puddles in the tractor ruts.
 
            You stood in the lane
crook-necked under the berg of night,
            watching the Hunter stride
huge and glittering over the top of the hill.
            When I shivered you opened
your jacket round me like a stolen cloud
            reeking of gun oil, tobacco,
sweat and rabbit blood, your iron heat
            freezing me in place.
 
In this clammy warmth
            that chokes the throat of December
I think of those frosts, those skies;
            of a time written in the language
of the winter stars, that language
            in which every word is a verb.
You taught it to me:
            to blaze; to be high;
to be splendid. To fall.